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Tag Archives: hood river

An Oregon Tale (Part 1)

Noah Smith, graduating from the University of Oregon; the only graduate in his class in a wheelchair.

RECENTLY MY OLDEST son, Noah, graduated from the University of Oregon. He wore the traditional cap with tassel as a concession to his mother’s prodding. The gown, however, bothered him. Where the hell did the long flowing folds belong? He opted to go without, etiquette be damned. In its place he put on a bright pink shirt with striped tie. If you are going to draw attention, you may as well shine. As he proceeded forward amidst the other students draped in black, he glowed like an orchid in a bed of coal. When the Provost announced Noah’s name, a loud cheer interrupted the decorum. The ovation celebrated an effort occurring parallel to the academics. These were his fans. They rightfully claimed a moment of brazen discourteousness. My resistance to the incessant urge for a feel good moment, about a story that has never felt very good, wavered. I allowed myself a smile. The school’s president, Dave Frohnmayer, paused momentarily for order, then shook Noah’s hand. He got the diploma. But my wife, his brother, and I — and his fans — all graduated with him. Noah received a BA in Spanish, summa cum laude. He would have preferred that moment to be remarkable for other reasons, but of the 1000-plus graduates, he was the only one in a wheelchair...

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Measure 37 Means Condos and … Compromise?

We haven’t heard much about Measure 37 recently, but that’s not because much isn’t going on — it is, and the biggest pieces of this fractured story are the least obvious. First, to the obvious: Measure 37 is about the money. The money that landowners claim they’ve lost or will lose by the state or counties barring them from developing. The money that lures forestry companies to turn from logging to condos. And the money that farmers, house-holders and others with what they see as presently useless or excess land are costing the rest of us with their claims. Claims may be totally legit (though numerous ones in Hood River County, at least, have asked to make developments that were never allowed under their original zoning), but they take public time to assess. That’s cost Wasco County, for one, several thousand dollars; and the real impact will come with the May rush, of some 30 claims to assess, according to The Dalles Chronicle. Wasco County doesn’t charge landowner claimants for its planners’ time. Hood River County, with many more claims, does; but nowhere near enough to pay for their efforts. Measure 37 presently accounts for an estimated 70 percent of the planning staff’s time — and the fees the county charges cover less than 10 percent of the planning budget...

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Headstones on the Sandbar

photos by Temira Wagonfeld

A friend called me Saturday morning. “Are those your headstones on the sandbar,” he asked. “Headstones? Not mine, but I’m on my way there,” I replied. Downtown already, I hopped on my bike and rode to Hood River’s new acreage. Headstones, indeed. Hundreds, no, thousands of white paper headstones stood in the sand, glowing in the early morning sunshine. A dozen or so shovel-bearing, forty-something war protesters, an efficient team, planted the symbolic Arlington Cemetery on the no-mans-land sandbar. Figuring that my four years of apathetic opposition needed to end, I joined in. This simple paper construction formed a poignant monument to the Americans who’ve lost their lives in the war.

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No Public Allowed–A Call for Government Accountability

Historic Mosier School

UPDATE, FRIDAY A scheduled negotiation between District 21 and the Mosier Community School was canceled Thursday after the negotiation teams were advised by the Oregon Department of Education that they could not meet without public notice and public presence—per Oregon Public Meeting law. The meeting, however, did not require a quorum and therefore should not be subject to Oregon Public Meeting law. In other words, they should have been allowed to meet. The law is designed to ensure that public decisions are “arrived at openly,” not to grind the operations of public bodies to a halt. Instead of throwing in the towel, District Superintendent Candy Armstrong and School Principal Carole Schmidt (along with their attorneys and other personnel) met anyway. According to Principal Schmidt, they spent five hours—from 3 o’clock to 8 o’clock—working their way through nearly every section of the proposed charter, and will be meeting again today (Friday) to finish their work. The negotiation team will attempt their meeting again on Monday and—if it is deemed necessary—the public will be invited. Stay tuned for more information. • • • • • On February 26, the school boards for District 21 (North Wasco County) and the Mosier Community School met in an executive session to discuss the District’s reasons for not renewing the school’s charter. The key words here are: executive session. In other words, it was a private meeting, closed to the public: no teachers, no parents, no students, and no community members. Unless, of course, they were a member of one of the school boards. You'll recall that the District's board decided — apparently without prior notice — to non-renew Mosier Community School's charter last month. Since then, the District has fumbled with a list of excuses for doing so (citing, for example, Mosier's being a month tardy in presenting their annual 2005-06 report, though it was the District that scheduled the presentation). More recently, the District has entered, sort of, negotiations. Due to the public nature of the discussion (the status and future of the Mosier school), it appears that this meeting was held in violation of Oregon Public Meeting law (ORS 192.610 to 192.690). This law, which pertains not just to school districts but to any governing body of a public agency, clearly states that “the Oregon form of government requires an informed public aware of the deliberations and decisions of governing bodies and the information upon which such decisions were made. It is the intent…that decisions of governing bodies be arrived at openly” (Italics added). Furthermore, “a quorum of a governing body may not meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as otherwise provided by ORS 192.610 to 192.690.” ...

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An Interview With the Artist as a Young Man


Andrew Smith has a lot to say—not only is he willing to discuss the politics of attempting to make a career as an artist, but he will also animatedly chat at length about his passion for speed racing on his bike and the finer points of heavy metal music. Born and raised in Hood River, Andrew has recently moved to Portland for a full-time job at a bike shop and the chance gain greater exposure as an artist. I met with him recently at his favorite watering hole in Southeast Portland for an update on the career trajectory of this twenty-three year old and his perspective on the current state of creative life in the Gorge.

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“The Bard” in the Hood


Ten years ago I spent a romantic week in London with my soon-to-be husband. We walked along the Thames holding hands, strolled arm in arm through the grounds of Windsor Castle, snuggled together in a cozy horse-drawn carriage. But of all my fond memories the most vivid is of us laughing hysterically (to the point of tears and quite nearly wet britches) in an East End production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I can’t wait to relive the experience! And now Hood River even has the Horse and Hound (a proper English Pub) to get a stout pint and decent basket of fish and chips! Long Live the Bard! The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) is coming to Hood River for 2 weeks in March. Bag&Baggage Productions, a Portland-based theatre company, will remount its wildly successful 2005 tour of the production for eight shows in the beautiful Columbia Center for the Arts in downtown Hood River. This record breaking hit is an irreverent, fast-paced romp through all 37 of the Bard’s plays in 97 minutes and was called “the funniest show you are likely to see your entire life,”

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China’s Newest Export To The NW Is Dirty Air

Can we agree that smoggy air is really counter to the whole idea of living in the Northwest? That haze doesn’t belong in the Columbia Gorge? Turns out, a growing cause of the haze that’s increasingly obvious here, is the slew of poison spewed into the air by China. Let me for the record say — that’s a bad thing. Clean air, good; polluted air, bad. I don’t how you vote or what whack-job political commentators you listen to — I don’t care — but my 3-year-old daughter shouldn’t have to breathe China’s dirty air in her Columbia Gorge backyard. Or any dirty air, for that matter...

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Safety at May and 13th

Above, a cartoon by local artist Norm Vance illuminates a very real concern for Hood River. Below, a photo by columnist Holle Lund of the intersection at May and 13th with Jackson Park in the background.

When I was asked to write an article to go along with this cartoon, I immediately searched for traffic statistics and research on the effectiveness (and ineffectiveness) of traffic controls. Then it occurred to me that you don’t need to be an expert to realize there’s a problem at May and 13th. Instead, I ask anyone familiar with this Hood River intersection to take this brief quiz: 1. As you drive south on 13th Street—on your way to Rosauer’s—how often do you pause to watch for pedestrians at May Street? 2. As you drive west along May Street, how often do you pause to watch for pedestrians as you turn left onto 13th? I’ve spent more than five years teaching and conducting research on pedestrian issues, and even I don’t do well on that quiz. There are just too many other things to be paying attention to—like whether or not you’re about to get sideswiped by an SUV.

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Coffee Talk About Land Rights, Development

I’ve often said (to the poor souls too slow or too polite to escape my opinionating) that how we use our land is the great Western issue of this time. What does that mean, precisely? Well, that depends on how you ask the questions. If you ask, “What will we have left if we allow everyone to build anything anywhere?” you’ll get a different take than if you ask, “What right does the government have to tell me I can’t use my land?” Hood River’s own Columbia Gorge Earth Center has taken a stab at this most-pressing debate: “How much control should the public have over the use of privately held land?” That’s the topic for a CGEC-organized debate between Steven B. Andersen and Jeff Hunter coming up on Monday, Feb. 26. The talk is free, open to the public and will be held at Dog River Coffee (411 Oak Street, Hood River). Starts at 7:30 p.m., and promises to be considerably more substantial than most coffee-house chatter...

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Greg Mortenson Speaks at CCA

Internationally acclaimed author to speak in the Gorge Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, recently named one of the top Asian books of 2006 by Time Magazine, will talk about his work and show images of his adventures. In 1993 Mortenson was descending from an attempt on the peak of K2. Exhausted and disoriented, he wandered away from his group into the most desolate reaches of northern Pakistan. Alone, without food, water, or shelter he eventually stumbled into an impoverished Pakistani village where he was nursed back to health. While recovering he observed the village’s 84 children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. The village was so poor that it could not afford the $1-a-day salary to hire a teacher. When he left the village, he promised that he would return to build them a school...

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